Hello! Anybody out there?

Is everybody just folding up tent?

I recently posted two items that were meant to start a discussion and gather information on substantive issues we are all facing in the art fair business.  But I have not received a single comment on either post.  Perhaps you missed them as they were buried in a sea of “Tent for sale” posts that now dominate this board.

We used to have excellent discussions and reports on this board.  Why, at this moment in time when we are faced with more existential questions than ever, is there no interest in sharing information and discussing important changes and challenges?  Is it because everyone on this board is folding up tent and quitting the business? 

Or are some of us still trying to make it work?  If so, let’s talk.

Here are some existential topics begging for reports and discussion:

  • Covid restrictions: Some fairs are restricting traffic, requiring face masks, requiring vaccination, spacing booths apart, not allowing more than two people to be in a booth at the same time, etc.  Are these rules keeping your customers away?  Did you know about them before you set up?  Were they enforced?  Can you make money under these rules?
  • Is the art fair business copying the cruise industry in asking for up-front cash payments for events that may not take place or may be rescheduled, and for which you may or may not get your money back or get “future cruise credits” for instead? Are some art fairs in 2021 pretending to jury in new applicant while rolling over all 2020 invitees?  Which promoters are most likely to go under with our booth fees in their pockets?  How can we prevent that?  Escrow accounts?  Are promoters collecting booth fees for events that they do not yet have all of the permissions for?  Should they be required to tell us when that is the case?
  • Are suburbanites still willing to go downtown for an art fair in this era of social strife and exploding urban murder rates? Any sign that art fairs could be targeted?  Is art fair security being compromised when there is a demonstration in another part of the same city?

You probably have more topics like this.  What would be most useful would be reports from people who have experiences with these topics that they can report on, rather than just opinions.

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  • I will be writing a blog about WPSAF, it will be published this afternoon, Sunday.

  • I just finished doing the Winter Park show. It had killer sales for most artists.

    Most were unmasked but vaccinated.

    We are outdoors in moving air, that is healthy conditions.

    So far, I have done nine shows, and I have not heard of one artist being sick from COVID.

  • Jan -

    Very insightful report!  Thanks! Exactly the type of information I am looking for.

    I hope you will inspire others to contribute similar reports and insights.

  • Okay. I just completed my 2021 winter season at art shows in Florida. I live here year-round. I did 3 small shows in central Florida, the Gasparilla online event (Tampa), plus St. Augustine (a promoter), Cedar Key (April) and Mayfaire (May). 

    First of all, I'm glad to be a Floridian. Everything has been open and loosy-goosy for quite awhile. 

    The October 2020 show in Leesburg and February show at Lake Wales were sparsely attended BUT I sold as much as if it were a regular year (very moderate sales). March, April and May shows were well attended, sales similar to a regular year.

    As the weeks progressed, fewer and fewer people wore masks. At Mayfaire it was reported by the local news (they are always right, right?) that 25% wore masks. I think fewer than that. But this is Florida. It's hot here. Most people follow reasonable rules. I don't know about the unreasonable rules, though. I have not seen or heard of ANYONE making an issue of the rules being followed. I wear a mask around my neck. If you walk in my booth and have a mask on, I'll pull it up. If not, I won't. I keep a jug of hand sanitizer on a stand. Some people use it. Some don't 

    Attendees at all shows were, at first, just the quality artist hounds. Then the families came out. Then the dog walkers. People are SO happy to be outside at art shows. After all, where else can they spend their stimulus money they didn't need in the first place. I was told that by two customers. 

    I haven't done any big city art shows because they ALL cancelled. They report it's because they can't comply with the dictated rules and social distancing. That's their loss. Social strife and demonstrations? We don't have that in Florida but if you have had that in your big city, no one can tell you yet if people will stay away. People that can afford to buy art can also afford to leave the state. I've met several New Yorkers at Florida art shows looking to dress up their new Florida homes with art. These were not retirees. 

    As for fall and 2022 shows: I'm researching that now. I plan on 8-10 during the Nov-May season in Florida. That is typical for me. I don't typically do promoter shows if there is a local guild event. Guilds are fair about cancellations and many other things. 

  • Colorado: not back to normal schedule of shows occurring in resort areas. There are a few but many are not happening. 

  • Hi Reid,

    I would love to read a discussion on this but I have nothing to contribute if you are ruling out opinions.  There is currently so much uncertainty on both sides; some of us may have a few snippets of knowledge to contribute. 

    I think that Nels Johnson has given us all some great info with his reviews---  that is my opinion! - and many of us haven't done any shows so far, especially those of us who live in the north and don't travel more than a few hundred miles for a show.

    I had a 45 minute conversation with a show promoter a few days ago. Many variables going on. 

    The money aspect.  Artists are not dumb. There is not hurry to throw out $500+ for a booth fee right now.

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